Photo (left to right): First four are the Coast Guard Station Galveston Crew, Jaeger Bull, Robert French, Brendan Suckley, Christopher Conway. Photo credit: Petty Officer 3rd Class Alejandro Rivera, Coast Guard Public Affairs Specialist.
Fritz Kuebler is the Rice University Program Director for the National Security Innovation Network (NSIN), a Department of Defense (DoD) collaboration with the Office of Research at Rice University designed to connect the DoD, academia, and entrepreneurs.
How can faculty and students participate in NSIN?
As the Rice University Program Director, Fritz is responsible for engaging program offices (such as the Office of Technology Transfer) through acceleration and research opportunities for Rice University spin-offs, faculty through providing networking opportunities and chances to provide consultation to DoD research efforts potentially leading to subsequent grant opportunities, and students through funding for start-ups, paid fellowships, college credit capstone projects, and direct hiring events.
Current NSIN initiatives include two Capstone projects sponsored by the United States Coast Guard and the Army Research Laboratory. The Coast Guard project is focused on building a “micro-vessel” (a small, difficult-to-detect, and autonomous vessel used to detect narcotics smuggling), and a project focused on aerodynamic changes to an aircraft’s wings during flight. Additionally, Zeta Energy – a company started out of Rice University – was recently selected for the NSIN Emerge Accelerator Program, where they will be introduced to influential stakeholders inside DoD acquisitions.
What other projects is NSIN currently working on?
Other opportunities include NSIN Experts, X-Force, and Tech Squad programs that link university faculty, students, and STEM professionals directly with DoD officials through laboratory technology and real-world problem solving opportunities. The programs provide unique consulting experience with national security decision-makers.
The NSIN Technology and National Security Fellowship is a fantastic opportunity for students and faculty alike. The TNSF program matches doctoral and master’s candidates in STEM fields with policy makers and national laboratory-level DoD researchers to provide technical expertise on an emerging national security problem. TNSF Fellows receive GS-12 to GS-13 pay (roughly $90,000+ in the Houston area). Five out of nine fellows in this year’s cohort will be from Texas universities.
NSIN also sponsors numerous Hackathons throughout the year. In fact, the “Reality Bytes” event just opened for registration. “Reality Bytes” is designed to help enhance performance of Department of Defense personnel responsible for analyzing the health and vulnerabilities of networks. Often, they face a range of challenges to prioritize and focus on critical cyber-based threats. For example, they must manage a range of diagnostic tools across multiple software platforms while remaining vigilant for hard-to-detect events that could prove to be signals of phishing or hacking attempts from adversaries. Further diagnosis is often even more difficult for personnel in expeditionary environments with physical limitations on bandwidth, energy, and processing power. The Challenge is to “Develop concepts, technologies, or systems to improve the ability of personnel to visualize, monitor, and respond to cybersecurity events.”
Fritz can be found on the 4th Floor of Dell Butcher Hall in the National Security Research Accelerator Space. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org. He is a retired Coast Guard Officer, has a Master’s in Public Policy from Princeton University, and is a second-year MBA student at the Jones School.